A woodland playground refound

The climb to Cobble was always one of my favorites. Peering down on the valley below, you couldn't see many people, and if you did; they were very small and far away and they didn't much matter.

We were boys then, without the cares, responsibilities and common grievances of grown men. We played among the boulders and in caves, which sheltered ice all summer long. The place offered mystery and an escape from the summer's heat.

There was Hollow Rock, a towering, forty-foot monolith with a small cave in the pitted stone and a short distance beyond laid the Buffalo Stone, a near perfect, natural sculpture that resembled a buffalo at rest.

This was a playground in my youth, and it looked the same, with forests, cliffs and caves. As I negotiated my way over, through and around the vast expanse of snow-covered boulders, it became difficult to disguise my delight.

I had the sensation of viewing the scene through a child's eyes. Though the hollowed cave was much smaller than I remembered, in retrospect, it was likely because I'd grown so much larger. But Buffalo Rock, it was still huge!

It was enjoyable to share the journey with a friend and to recall those younger days, which often feel so far away. Yet on such familiar ground, it was easy to recapture the mood, the excitement of discovery and the sheer pleasure of again sharing a 'secret spot' with someone for the first time. And I will admit, it was encouraging to know that I can still make it back up there.

Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, adults often forget the definition of recreation, a process of re-creating and re-learning how to play. It is a vital exercise that is restorative of self and spirit and when practiced in a woodland setting; it can be especially effective in enabling one to recapture their youth.

The famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, once a visitor to the Adirondacks, defined wilderness as "a special place, where a man can become lost and yet find himself in the process."

It's good for the soul to become lost on occasion, even if it is difficult to erase that wide grin from your face upon being found.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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